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Feeling better after the second preseason game

Tim's picture

With two preseason games under our belts now, we can start to make some assessments. Fortunately, those assessments are a lot more positive following the game in San Diego than they would have been following the team's performance in Oakland. So here are my random, rambling thoughts:

Kevin Ogletree did a really nice job against San Diego. On a deep post he got his body in front of Quentin Jammer and went up for the ball as the safety came across in front of him. He pulled it in, and held on through the hard hit and to the ground. You might argue that Orton shouldn't have thrown it into the coverage, but sometimes you have to, and Ogletree repaid the QB's trust. If I had one nitpick, it seemed to me on a short swing pass to Murray that went for nine yards early in the game, Ogletree could have put a little more into his downfield blocking. Instead, his man made the stop one yard shy of the first down marker. It didn't kill a drive, as Dallas converted on the next play, but those kinds of things add up over the course of a long season.

Of course, Jamize Olawale, who was the leading rusher in both games, is drawing some attention from fans. With Tanner still out, and Murray and Jones both being used sparingly, he's gotten a lot of carries. He is the largest back Dallas has, and showed what that means in two pile-pushing carries that took Dallas into the end zone from a first and goal at the four last night. A rookie who was just converted to the position, it's hard to see how he takes a spot away from Tanner, but is there a chance the team keeps four running backs? He'd have to contribute on Special Teams, and so far his only highlight there is running into Oakland's punter on Monday, giving the Raiders a first down. But keep an eye on him - he's a big man with some burst who also caught four passes last night.

In Oakland, I didn't see much from Cole Beasley, who seems to be getting a lot of good reviews in practice. On the one pass attempted in his direction, he got not separation. In San Diego, he showed us a lot more. Several times, he found the open spot in zone coverages, playing entirely out of the slot. He also showed some elusiveness, and ended up with seven catches for 107 yards. Near game's end, he was seen vomiting on the sideline, so I'll say he definitely left it all on the field - or the sideline, as the case may be.

To be honest, I saw some positives from all the young receivers last night - Holmes, Harris and Radway all had a few plays. More importantly, in light of Witten's injury, James Hanna looked legitimate as a pass-catching Tight End, although I did not get enough of a look to assess his blocking.

On the defensive side, Brandon Carr sure looks to be worth the investment. On his first interception, he looked like he was clearly beaten on a deep post, but closed quickly and timed his leap perfectly to pick off an underthrown Philip Rivers pass. On his second interception, he once again looked half a step behind, but honestly, in this case I think he was baiting the quarterback. After reaching up for the ball, he batted and juggled it four or five times before pulling in the interception. On an interesting note, those two interceptions were the only two incompletions thrown by Rivers, who ended up 13 of 15 for the night.

On the other side, Mo Claiborne was not targeted very much, but seemed to be doing a good job in coverage when I was able to keep an eye on him, and Barry Church continues to impress at safety.

With DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer sitting, I didn't expect much up front, but in fact, the team still generated a little bit of pressure and controlled the gaps in the running game. Victor Butler got the only sack. In the run, I noticed Dan Connor wrapping up deep in his gap while a charging Barry Church finished off the tackle for no gain. Later, Connor would be isolated in mismatched coverage on TE Randy McMichael for a big gain. That's just a mismatch - I don't think he played it poorly.

The biggest change from game one to game two was the offensive line. It was just night and day. Quarterbacks behind the first team line had loads of time - enough time to make you wonder why nobody was open yet. They also opened up some running lanes, including up the middle. And that is worth mentioning, because as much as I liked Olawale's TD, that whole line was moving forward at the goal line, something we haven't seen in a while. Do I have to remind you about Dallas getting stuffed on 4th and 1 in a December loss (to San Diego) in 2009?

Arkin drew four flags on a single drive - two for holding and two for being downfield illegally. His last penalty literally killed the drive, negating a defensive pass interference call in the end zone on the same play. Instead of first and goal at the two, it was a 40 yard FG. It was Arkin's hold that had pushed the team back to a 2d and 15 only two plays earlier. Obviously, Arkin is not the answer at Center.

Just a couple notes on Dez Bryant. On a deep cross in the back of the end zone - intended for Ogletree - the ball was thrown to the corner where Bryant, Ogletree and two DBs all collided. I am pretty sure Ogletree was running the route he was supposed to, but I suspect that Garrett did not intend for Bryant to run to the same spot. That ball was almost picked off.

But let's end on a positive - the most spectacular non-catch of the night. On a Romo throwaway out the back of the end zone, Bryant leaped what looked like 12 feet in the air (yes, I'm exaggerating) and at the very limit of his extension, snatched the ball with one hand, backhanded, and pulled it in as he landed, barely touching the white line with one foot. He looked like an outfielder climbing the wall to steal a HR ball.

So, a little over two weeks until the season opener, and the defense looks solid, I think the third WR is on the team, and the OL is at least not a basket case. But we better hope that most of the injured starters get back on the field soon.